tv KQED Newsroom PBS March 1, 2014 12:30am-1:01am PST
next, caltrans under scrutiny again amid ongoing concerns about the bay bridge span. and a criminal investigation of a petaluma slaughterhouse puts local ranchers at risk. and a hi-tech lifeline teaching computer codes to give black youth better opportunities. >> we need designers. we need a lot of people.
good evening and welcome. with continuing criticism surrounding the new eastern span of the bay bridge, caltrans said that it would address some of the doubts about the bolts and rods raised by critics. at a hearing this week the officials said the allege si is doing further testing and additional questions have been raised about misaligned road december conceptisepgs and poss joining me for a look at safety issues are the "sacramento bee" senior writer. and we have the san francisco "chronicle" reporter and brian maroney, the chief bridge designer from caltrans joining us from sacramento. let me begin. as you know, there have been a number of questions about the materials and the instructions for the bay bridge. how are you addressing these concerns? >> what we're doing is we're trying to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure we reach
out to the public to communicate what we've actually done in the original planning stages where we reached out to the public following the n oechlt pa, the national environmental policy act where the community chose the kind of bridge they wanted. the kind of engineering that was involved in the design that the community chose. the kind of engineering and construction that was necessary in the construction stages for that bridge. and even we're now starting to talk about what kind of maintenance and operations we're going to be needing to do for the next 150 years. and actually, just two nights ago, we had public meeting and any other interested parties and invited guests to talk about the a-354 bd bolts. >> and excuse me for interrupting. you're trying to engage the public more but specifically, what kinds of testing and what kinds of repairs are you making and can you tell the public at this point that this bridge
which has cost $6.4 billion, is supposed to last 150 years, can you tell the public that it will, indeed, hold up and be safe if we have a big earthquake? >> i feel very comfortable at that. there are no promises in a major earthquake. any real -- there are no promises in an earthquake but we've gone to lengths that are way beyond the standards of california, way beyond the standards in the united states. this was designed for a thousand-year earthquake. we designed for a 1500-year ground motionry is above and beyond. we didn't just design for standards. that is no collapse after a big earthquake. we actually designed for this bridge to be operational. it will steal have steel that's bent and have repair that's necessary. but i believe we're going to be able to get little boy tractor-trailer rigs, fire
trucks, water trucks across this bridge. reasonably quickly we'll have this so the bay area can start to reconstruct itself after a major earthquake and this is the first bridge that's been el skratd to this level and it all goes back to where the governor's board of inquiry challenged the governor to make this bridge something more and the governor put out an executive directive saying, let's have the first bridge as the lifeline bridge where afterwards, we're not thinking about no collapse. we're thinking about let's make it operational after an event. i'm really excited that this team has taken that challenge on. so i feel very good about what we've done. i also want to say -- in the real world, any time you build anything, there's no such thing as perfection. there's no such thing as 100%. i think there's been some misunderstanding about something being perfect. any time you do a billion things, there are going to be a few challenges. and, of course, that's practical
and we're addressing those things. but i still feel this bridge is sound. it's very good. the public can be very proud of it. and it's -- i've worked from san diego to crescent city. this is the most fantastic bridge that i've seen from san diego to crescent city. >> let me bring in charles pillar, from the "sacramento . bee." and you've been covering the bridge. what do you make of what brian maroney just said and you would have a technical briefing with caltrans. what are are you hearing from engineers outside of caltrans. >> i want to commend them for the technical briefing in one respect. what was interesting about it is for the first time they accepted outside criticism as having considerable validity about the concerns about the high strength anchor rods and bolts on the bridge and what irrelevant means is their showing a degree of
openness to reconsider the pipeline position and letting the outside experts who are quite brilliant in their own right have an opportunity to state their case. i think the next question for caltrans in this regard is particularly with the bolts is, will they allow allow them for tests to get an independent review of what caltrans was very reassuring in the comments that they make about the validity of their tests and about the stability of the structure. and i think it's so great they feel so confident. if they're so confident why not release samples of the bolts to the independent engineers who requested them so that these kinds of tests can be done independently and new tests that might give the public an extra measure of reassurance about how great that structure really is. >> since we have the chief engineer from the bay bridge here from caltrans, brian maroney, why not have outside folks test the bolts and rods?
>> well, i'm not in a position to give away state property. however, i think we've been really opened to inviting everybody to come in and review our data and i hope we'll continue to do that. i certainly will be a full participant of making sure everybody gets a chance to see everything we're doing. again, i think we've been opened and i'm willing to continue to be opened. if we transfer material to other agencies, that this whole bridge program oversight committee will have to evaluate. i'm 100% opened to any kind of review. so it's a public bridge. i believe the public should get a chance to see and understand everything. >> you had a report this week, talking about misaligned steel sections. can you explain what you found? what happened was that when they made these giant steel holes and
shipped them from china, they fit together one way in china. and when they arrived here they fit together in different ways. the újtop, the long plane where the deck is where people drive over there were dips and valleys, small, by propotion to the thickness. of 14 millimeter and this was as much as eight so it was half. you have to fabricate a well, a different way and that well can be a problem and what happened was the chief designer of the bridge gave a briefing to caltrans in 2010, he said in a major earthquake a seismic event like the type brian was talking about. you could have areas of local failure in the misaligned sections. that doesn't mean the bridge is going to fall down. but the question was -- why would you accept this material that would bake additional failures that aren't necessary,
considering there are a number of failures they anticipate what's going toíw.aa in an earthquake. that's where -- the question is -- why would you accept this material? it wasn't accessible under caltrans' standards or the welding society bridge code or all these different rules that say you can't do this. it has a number of risks but the significant risk was a seismic one. >> and senator, you're head of the senate transportation and housing committee investigating all this. are you asking the same questions. what's your investigation now? >> it's ongoing. we had hope to be done by now and we keep finding more and more and we keep getting more and more people coming for warned giving us information. with all due respect to mr. maroney who i have a lot of respect for and brian and i have a lot of history on the bridge. i don't think it's been as opened as it should have been and clearly, there was mistakes made. the bridge is ten years late opening. it was $5 billion more than it was supposed to be when i voted for it and we continue to have
all of these other issues about its durability. i know that brian did his best. he's great at what he does but clearly there were mistakes made we want to learn from those mistakes. >> you were the tiebreaker vote on the metropolitan transportation commission when it approves the design for this new eastern span. if you had to do it all over again would you do anything differently? >> it was a subcommittee of ntc and i was one of the members and there was a professional group giving us advice. i think the design was a mistake and i think it's a buj bridge and clearly we tried to do something aspirational that had never been done, of its type and i think we could have done just as well if we were able to do. >> or perhaps, retrofit the old bay bridge. you think that would have been better than the new design? >> i don't know. we were given specific cost estimates of what it would do for that and what we would get if we built this bridge.
it's hindsight is 20/20. i think the design drove a lot of the things that have resulted in a lot of innovation but a lot of risk as well. >> and brian, i'll ask you the same question. if you could do this all over again, would you do anything differently. >> i feel good about what director did many, many years ago. he's a great leader. i gave him advice about fantastic bridge and we called it the skyway and we suggested parallel single-level structures and it was potentially, i believe, going the same size at the old bridge as well as something that would perform much better. but following the national environmental policy act which is federal law and we have to. we ask the community what we want. that includes a lot of people with complex values. many people were involved. i don't want to name names.
but i agree with senator, the senator, i think his perspective is exactly right and he and i have been on this from the very beginning. the community chose a fantastic bridge. they challenged me and my team and the senator and we put our shoulder to it and we did -- we did the very best job that we could have done and we got a great bridge. it is over -- it is over cost. it has taken too long and i'll be the first person to say that. i completely agree with the senator on that. but you know, i still feel that as i understand it, mary king and others taught me, we need to follow what the community wants and as an engineer, i'm a bridge near. i do what the community and elected officials challenge me to do to the best of my ability. >> and senator, march 4th, caltrans gave the ntc a full accounting of construction ñ irregularities and you have some legislation you're working on? >> as part of our investigation,
and this year, it will be the bills from the lessons we learned from both of the investigations. >> i thank you all. >> i want to make sure that it's clear that at least me and my team, we're absolutely going to support the senator and his effort 110%. and with the issue that jackson brought up, and he has identified a potential discussion between the two of us and myself, i very, very, very comfortable about my decision and i feel we looked at the outside experts verified it and the public can be very confident and the safety of this bring, leave it there and give you the last word on that. brian month roen any with caltrans and charles pillar and the senator and jackson, thank you all for being here. >> thank you. and coming up, a look at how
learning computer code could lead to social change. and the criminal investigation of a pete lieu may slaughterhouse. under fire for processing diseased animals. the issue is renewing concerns about food safety and raising questions about the role of government inspectors. meanwhile, bay area cattle producers are left without a local facility to process their meat. our news reporter has been covering this story and she spoke with scott schafer earlier today. this started off as a rather limited investigation and we're now looking at a whole year's worth of beef process of this plant being recalled. what's the latest on the usda investigation and the potential impact of it? >> this recall of nearly 9 million pounds of beef happened about three weeks ago when a petaluma slaughterhouse, ranch ceo feeding corporation recalled this amount of beef that had been processed over the course of an entire year as you said, because usda officials said that diseased animals may have been
processedp. but that sparked a lot of questions because by law. usda inspectors are supposed to be there when it's taking place. how is it possible that diseased animals move through through without this. earlier this week, the press reported that an inspector actually tried to flag problems at the usda plant and was ignored. we talked with usda inspectors and they wouldn't say much about the investigation but they did send us a statement saying that then rancho owners are possibly circumventing inspections and that they don't feel that this recall in any way reflects any failures on usda's part. >> but we don't know the results of the investigation? >> right. >> so the rancho slaughterhouse is shut down. what affect is that having? >> this is the only slaughterhouse in the san francisco bay area. so that means ranchers are
driving to eureka or other places get their meat processed. >> so going with live cat? >> yes and it takes hours. that's not an insignificant cost and coupled with the drought, they're being hit with feeding costs because there's enough grain to grow their own grass, for example. they're getting hit on many sides. the other way that these ranchos are being hit, some of them have meat tied up that they processed that they have frozen and were hoping to sell. >> no one has gotten sick that we know of because of meat processed. why is it being held back or recalled and where is it? >> i spoke with bill neiman who has about 100,000 pounds of beef in cold storage. and he's hoping to get that meat released. he's talking with the usda about how the procedures that his company uses to slaughter their cattle make it impossible with comingled with other meat and most of it is not in cold
storage. it was processed over the course of a year and if people have prungts there's a partial list on our website on our news log. of products that are being recalled. if they have the products they can take them back to the store where they bought them and get a refind. >> that's a grass-fed operation. high end. many of the best restaurants and grocery stores sell that meat. what does it do to them and their reputation that they've developed over all these years? >> they're hoping to secure their reputation by getting their meat released from the recall actively with the usda. but they could take up to a 400,000 dollar hit if they can't get this meat sold during the course of this year. interestingly, rancho owners are not saying much but -- >> they're hoping the that that gets resolved. rancho is shut down and there's a local buyer, marin sun farms,
trying to purchase the slaughterhouse. toll us about them and what it would mean pore them to take over. >> marin sun farms a local purr purvey of high-end meats. if they successfully buy the plant and the process is going well, they will be able to provide local ranchers who rely on the slaughterhouse for their business. a means to continue their business and thrive. the other thing that they have is that it has a facility where you can cut and wrap the meat and get it ready for sale and it has a very robust distribution chain. so presumably, if marin sun farms takes over, ranchers who use their facilities will be able to get their high-end meats to market, to restaurants, to storage faster and maybe, more affordable. >> so, in fact, in the end it could be a very happy resolution? at least from the point of view of these ranchers? >> i guess if you're looking for a silver lining for this story, that's it. >> and in the meantime
vegetarianism looks good. >> for some. >> thanks so much. >> thank you. on thursday, president obama announced a new initiative called "my brother's keeper" aimed at helping young men of color succeed. >> this is an issue of national importance. as important as any issue that i work on. it's an issue that goes to the very heart of why i ran for president. >> among the community leaders advicing the white house is the head mentor as an oakland-base nond profit called "the hidden genius project." this group and others want to diversify the hi-tech sector by prepares more african-americans for computer jobs. as we report, the goal is to transform lives one key stroke at a time. >> after the -- okay. >> -- >> reporter: these names spend
hours glued the their computer screens. buthdo their homework for that matter. they're studying something they're not taught at school. computer coding. they're picking up html 5 and ruby on rails. john white is a sophomore at vallejo high. >> a new language. it's like you learn -- like you're learning spanish but you're learning something else other than spanish. letters and numbers and symbols. >> repeat one more time? >> this is "the hidden genius project." a small nonprofit working to recruit young black men into the hi-tech sector. one of the few parts of the economy that's booming and aching for diversity. >> other people can help you -- >> the boys have to apply to the program and if accepted, they commit to classes twice a week in oakland. >> brian is a sophomore at the high school in richmond. he hopes for a football career and then a knee injury put him
on the sideline. >> i didn't think i would be doing anything and this comes along, hidden genius project and it just opened -- i just thought it opened doors for me. >> brian lives with his grandparents who really like what he's doing. but don't quite get it. delores murray is his grandmother. >> i don't have any idea what coding is. >> murray does understand that it's a promising step. instead of playing video games, her grandson could end up making them. for money. >> it has been a real good thing for a teenage young man, who is trying to do the right thing. he's trying to stay out of the streets. trying to get good grades. he has all of this going for him and then "hidden genius" comes along and adds some more gel to the pudding so it kind of sets. >> a few weeks ago the hidden
genius students spent three days to build these games and mobile apps. their very first, one for black male achievement. and behind it, is the mentor. now, a tech entrepreneur, started in a very different place. he grew up in foster care and while he found a way out, his little brother did not. >> the system reduced a lot of his opportunities to pursue his own dreams. he wanted to be a computer scientist. so he stayed in the group home system until he was 18 and then he aged out and then he was killed a couple of months later. so that was when i decided that i would focus on becoming an educagucato educator. >> this is about again ratigene ideas and prototypes fast. but today the focus is on mobile apps that help teens deal with every day problems. what to eat and whether to show
up for school. brian and his group are working on a do it yourself adventure game about decisionmaking. >> make that smaller. >> his team is creating a fitness app with a cartoon bird that gets slim over. the more he exercises. >> home students do this? jumping jacks? >> five or ten? >> each team has tech professionals, coaching the students. >> we need designers. we need a lot of people. >> oakland is a stone's throws. away from silicon valley and companies like the music streaming site pandora, have set up shop here. but show says while the community is largely african-american, the start-up workforce is not. >> so many kids koib considered misfits or be considered disadvantages and all these different weird things but i like to prefer to see them as low-opportunity. >> and we are trailblazers. >> at the end of the weekend, each group pitches their ideas to each other, 12.5 million
potential customers and a panel of judges. >> how did you reach out to folks to get more input on this? >> the funder, mitch caper, has invested over $1 million in the oakland start-up team this last year alone. he says that the east bay is full of unpassed potential and maybe even the next billion-dollar company. >> i've always been looking around the corner. so when i got started in personal computers in 1978, nobody took them seriously. and when i started working on and investing in internet companies in 1993, nobody took it seriously. and so on. so this really isn't any different. >> black and latino kids spent plenty of time using technology. but the "hidden= genius projec wants consumers to be producers and see that reflected in hi-tech products. take violence on the streets. >> if we want to build an app
that could have saved trayvon martin's life when the best approach is to make sure that trayvon martin is able to build that arp for trayvon martin. >> what potential? >> as exciting as it is, a hackathon is short lived. it will take a lot of coding and programs like "the hidden genius project" to really change the game. >> i live in south vallejo so i had's get hetto every day. >> i think we can thank the world with this. >> that was kqed reporting. joining me for a look at other news we're tracking is scott schafer. hi, scott. >> hi. >> jer ray brown filed papers to run for re-election. no surprise. what kind of race do you think he'll have between now and november? >> he's in great shape. he has $17 million in the bank and he's runng
relatively unknown republican opponents who don't have money or name i.d. he's presiding over a recovering economy and a balanced budget. well known and his poll numbers are good and it would seem that jerry brown is going to cruise to re-election come november but it doesn't always work that way in terms of conventional wisdom playing out. >> what are some of the things that could trip him up? it seems like he hit the sweet spot. he's fiscally tight but liberal on social justice issues? >> i think the main concern is his age. he turns 76 in april. he had a battle with skin cancer on his nose a couple or few years ago now and that seems to be gone. there's that unforeseen thing about there. if you ask them privately they would say that's the biggest concern if something like that raised question about his ability to serve. >> governor brown also has an appointment to the state supreme court soon. how will that tie into this election year for him? and also, new statistics kaurm
out on the ethnic makeup of the court today. >> and the judges in california, although it's getting more diverse, still two-thirds male and white. the state supreme court has four asian americans and a majority of women but no latino judges and no african-americans. so you can be sure the pressure will be on the governor to appoint one of those ji citieses, african-american or latino and he'll have a great opportunity to do that in the coming weeks. >> but from a gender perspective, about 45% of his appointment have been women? >> he's done well. there's a lot of judges. his appointments have an impact gradually but still, just 32% of the judges are women. changing but slowly. >> thank you, scott. >> you bet. kwor all of our news coverage go to kqed news.org. >> i'm scott schafer, thanks for joining us. >> have a good night.